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Thread: Fretboard Discovery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Fretboard Discovery

    So I just learned something today, and I want to know if anyone else has noticed it. It's about the fretboard on the ukulele. When this idea I'm about to say is applied correctly, it can be used for any instrument.

    Take the C string on a ukulele. Pluck it with no fingers on the fretboard. You have C. Moving one fret up, or a half step, is C#. A whole step up is 2 frets up from C to D.

    Lets now say we play a scale on just the C string, CDEFGABC. You move from the starting string one whole step to D, One whole step to E, a half step to F, Whole to G, Whole to A, Whole to B, Half to C.

    In other words,

    Start note, Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Whole, Half.

    What I learned is that this pattern mentioned above applies to all major scales. Let's take another scale for example.

    E Major.

    Follow the pattern on the fret board on the E string this time, and you have E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, E.

    Its the same pattern. Even if you go on the E string and play an F scale, its the same pattern.

    For Minor scales, the pattern is different, but still the same principle.

    Well, thats what I learned. You learn something new everyday!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2018


    I have been thinking about scales too :-) To me, scales are a mindless activity that have no intrinsic worth in themselves but have a whole lot of secret secondary things they can teach you. When I learned flute scales were an exercise to practice tone, sustain, clean finger changes and timing.

    They also can teach about chords, for instance it is interesting to play the major scale and then the minor scale and see that only 2 notes are different and they are only moved by one fret.

    On a stringed instrument scales teach you the position of the notes on a fret board both in and of themselves ("here is an A") but also in relation to the root note. For instance, you now know that an octave is exactly 12 frets up. The fourth note is five frets up and the fifth notes 7 frets up. Without knowing the names of any notes you can now play single string 12 bar blues just using those relative fret positions.

    But you will see that is inefficient and adding more strings to play the scale across means you can play a scale without having to move your hand up and down the fret board.

    I think there may be a better way to play scales. That is that every note is played in relation to the root note and played 1-2 1-3 1-4 1-5 etc. So, for playing the C major scale you would play C then D, back to C then E, back to C then F, back to C then G etc That would really teach us note position relative to the root note.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Bloomington, Indiana, USA, Earth


    "Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Whole, Half"

    That's pretty much the definition of a major scale.

    There's the same kind of pattern for minor scales (of various sorts) as well.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)


    Keep it up! It's called "music theory" and it is not scary, boring, or arcane. It is full of discoveries like this and you'll never get to the bottom of it.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Catskill Mountains, NY


    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hanks View Post
    It's called "music theory" ... and you'll never get to the bottom of it.
    Yes, indeedy. And those are the workshops I skip at uke fests. They make my brain hurt.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Honoka'a, HI


    This is a REALLY good video on this subject: (Here's the first lesson if the "mobility jumps" are confusing: Remember, just use the bottom four strings for the uke.

    I feel like this is possibly the most useful explanation I've seen on scales and the fretboard matrix. It's not overthought, just the bare minimum you need to make music.
    Brad Bordessa

    My guide to fretting and fingering (NEW): Left Hand Technique for 'Ukulele

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Port Hueneme, CA


    You have just discovered one of the important music theory items I believe ukulele players should know.
    The other is the chord scale. Major, minor, minor, major, major ,minor, diminished.
    Key of C, C-Dm,Em,F,G,Am,Bdim
    The V chord is usually a dominant 7, and the VI chord is the relative minor.
    Keep Strummin'

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